The Executive Director’s Message……When I first started working with youth in after-school and summer camp programs in 2004, I would have never guessed in a million years that I would be doing something in that capacity. It “must have been written” because over the next seven years there would be numerous events and experiences that would happen in my life shaping Sports Management, Academics, and Recreational Training (S.M.A.R.T.) into what it is today and providing the vision for the organization’s growth!
When I began working with youth, it was in Ward 8, which is considered a low-to-moderate income area of Washington, DC with a higher number of at-risk youth living and attending school. I became the Executive Director of DCBASEBALL.ORG in 2005 and while attempting to implement its programs into schools and little league organizations around the city, I realized that in the low to moderate income sections of the city the supplemental education opportunities for youth were almost non-existent. Also, the active participation of youth in sports programs around the city started to decrease. Programs like S.M.A.R.T. were dwindling and these young people deserved better quality programs during after-school and summer camp programs.
I started to develop a new mission for the organization which would not only focuses on academic development, but also helps raise the active participation in sports among the youth of Washington D.C. Having a deep passion and love for sports and for education, this was and is dear to me. Our new mission is clear: S.M.A.R.T. develops youth in academic areas, physical education, and life skills using sports-themed activities during Out-of-School Time (OST) as a tool to educate and motivate young people.
I also see the mission statement as a “Movement” statement. Disadvantaged youth need quality guidance within educational development. Using sports-themed activities in our programs for youth helps the organization strive to set and reach our primary goals and objectives:
1. Help “at-risk” and “under-served” youth improve academic performance in the areas of literacy, mathematics, writing, science, history, health, and life skills.
2. Provide physical education enrichment activities to help combat health issues among youth.
3. Provide athletic skills instruction, guidance and mentorship to youth athletes.
4. Raise the active participation of youth in school athletics teams, as well as recreational sports teams.
5. Decrease the number of high school student-athletes who do not meet NCAA initial eligibility standards.
6. Build on-going partnerships with local businesses, local government, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and citizens to provide resources for youth education, sports, and recreational activities.
As the great Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, “the time is always right to do what is right.”
Don’t just follow us on our journey. Walk with us hand in hand as we change the lives of our youth through S.M.A.R.T.er thinking.
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